Comics – Your kryptonite kills me!

Vienna. Erwin Hutterer has an aura of one who has been in the business far too long to be disturbed by fashion. One tries anyway: At this year’s Comic-Con in San Diego, 10 sequels to “Man of Steel”, the youngest Superman from the DC cartoon universe, were announced for the next 5 years! “Ant-Man” washes even more money into the US box office than “Minions”! People do not seem to want to see anything in cinemas more than superhero movies, what does that say about us? He shrugs and smiles kindly. Eight to ten years ago, manga were what superheroes are now. That this kind of fashion does not impress him very much is already clear from the sentence: “I proudly claim that I have never read a manga in my life.”

Little story about comics

He soberly explains the enormous financial success of these films with their better technical quality: The films are made much better today than they used to be. Does he watch superhero movies? Yes, but not in the cinema, but in television. By the way, he liked the deep “Batman” best. Does the demand for printed stories increase as a new superhero flickers across the screen? Absolutely, “Iron Man” for example was not a problem before and is now read more. He knows that the demand for merchandise items will also increase: These movies make their money primarily on the sale of mugs, shirts and figurines.

Incidentally, comics are better today than they were 50 years ago, and the portrayal of characters is less one-dimensional. You probably won’t find such a dialogue in the 1981 superhero cartoon: “Stop the green light, your kryptonite is killing me. – That’s exactly what I want, Superman!”. On the other hand, the drawings in the newer comics have become darker and Superman has gained a lot of muscle mass.

And now we’re right in the middle of a little story about comic book culture: In the 1950s, there were still burns of comics, Hutterer recalls. At school, you were forced to swap your comics for “good books,” only to see the colorful notebooks burst into flames. Comics were considered a bad influence at the time, and a child who read comics was practically destined for a career as a drug dealer. All this nonsense, because Hutterer knows that “it starts with comics”: Children who read comics later also read books. But today, comics are being supplanted by other entertainment, mobile games are just as practical as the latest edition of Mickey Mouse used to be. And the magazines are threatened by disaster from another side: Comics have long been collectibles. They are put in bags and auctioned off for huge sums instead of being read. Hutterer knows about the case of Nicolas Cage, who sold one of the first “Superman” comics sealed and flawless at a record price – it was most likely never flipped through. Erwin Hutterer does not think much about this kind of “comic fetishism”. “My comic book collection is stacked in boxes.”

It all started with her in the late 70s. He opened his first store in Schlachthausgasse, “there is a brothel in there today”. Vienna’s cartoon scene was small but hungry for new stories. In 1987, he opened this comic book store on Landstrasser Hauptstrasse. Soon there were even three shops all over Vienna.

All very sweet people

He has since distributed the other two to his two daughters. He and his wife retained only the first. A photo of the two hangs over the counter with legendary cartoonist Carl Barks. The inventor of Scrooge McDuck: “A genius.” Hutterer met him and other great comics, such as Tarzan’s artist Hal Foster, “all very cute people, these comic book artists”.

The comic book store still has everything you need for a decent book or magazine store: colorfully painted pages are stacked in boxes on the floor, put together in boxes and fill the shelves to the ceiling. While Lucky Luke rides “Westward”, Winnetou and Old Shatterhand gallop across the cover of “Karl May Motion Picture Stories”. Lois Lane sighs between pages tucked away in Superman’s arms: “You’re always there …”. Elsewhere in the graphic novel, essential statements are made: “Identity is a genesis.” “Your hot piece,” breathes a blonde with straight lips at the back of a cartoon porn. While another book “Literature Adaptations in Comics. A Modular Analysis Model” discusses scientifically.

Meanwhile, there really is no pattern to be found among his customers. An elderly woman asks for a specific problem, Erwin Hutterer disappears behind boxes. A young man with a skateboard under his arm meanders past the Star Trek characters while browsing. Another gentleman pulls a few cents for a used “Jerry Cotton” magazine out of his pocket and throws it on the counter.

“Mickey Mouse” will be

But something else must really worry you: Even the “Micky Mouse” magazines have been struggling with sharply declining circulation for years? “It’s the same for all comic book publishers”, “Mickey Mouse” is only the most symbolic format. But, he assures, “Mickey Mouse” will continue to exist. Erwin Hutterer’s optimism is unshakable.

He is as unimpressed as he is looking forward to the first Austrian Comic-Con in Vienna in November. The American model of the fair is coming to Austria this year and to Germany twice in 2015 and 2016. Maybe his daughters will go. He used to go to comic book fairs where he knew almost the entire fan base of the city by name. But the fairs are always on weekends and Sundays “I have other plans now.” I certainly do not chase trends.

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